Javadekar hints at greater autonomy, wants older IIMs to scale up

Reaching out to the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) in a 'closed door' meeting at IIM Shillong, the Ministry of Human Resources Development (MHRD) led by union minister Prakash Javadekar on Tuesday assured 'full support' to the premier B-schools.

In a meeting that went on for roughly three hours and attended by directors of all 13 IIMs along with three chairmen of the boards, Javadekar and other MHRD officials called for greater responsibility and contribution towards the country while assuring support from the government to both old and new ones.

According to some of the IIM directors that Business Standard spoke to on condition of anonymity, several issues such as the impending IIM Bill, faculty shortage, need for more research and scaling up of campuses, were discussed in the meeting.

"The primary focus of the minister was to reach out to us and build a relationship with the IIMs. The meeting was also to send across a message that as premier institutions, the IIMs need to play a more responsible role in the country. At the same time, he assured us of full support, especially to the newer IIMs in terms of capital requirement and mentoring," said a director of one of the newer IIMs.

While no concrete steps were decided upon in the meeting, discussions were held over issues like faculty shortage and faculty recruitment challenges faced by the IIMs, apart from need to improve research quality at the premier B-school campuses. The older IIMs have been looking to expand their campuses within and outside the country, which could now seem a possibility, following this meeting.

The meeting saw discussions revolving around the challenges in attracting both domestic and international faculty and the widening faculty:student ratio across campuses. Javadekar and officials, however, assured support in terms of capital and other steps for both the older and newer IIMs.

Terming the meeting as "good", director of one of the older IIMs said on condition of anonymity that discussions were held on an agenda that had been shared earlier by the MHRD.

"They sent us some agenda and we had an open conversation on them. Some of the things discussed were expansion plans by the older IIMs and what could be done to help improve research quality to make these world class institutes, apart from extending support newer IIMs," the director said.

Javadekar is also learnt to have apprised the premier B-schools on the IIM Bill draft which has been sent to the Cabinet Committee for approval, following which it will be presented in the Parliament.

"The minister and his officials told us that all our concerns about autonomy have been addressed in the draft. But we have not seen the copy. We had requested for a draft but they said that it would now be going to the Parliament and, hence, cannot be shared. But they assured us that we could trust them," the director further stated.